tv Washington Week PBS March 10, 2018 1:30am-2:01am PST
robert: ath breugh. after months of insults and threats, president trump agrees to bilateralit talks north korea. i'm robert costa. inside the president's high-stakes diplomatic gamble. tonight on "washington week." >> i explained to president leadership and his maximum pressure policy together with international solidarity moved us to thisur tn robert: presidentrump prepares for an historic face-to-face eting with north kean leader kim jong-un. can ask the dictator to dismantle his nuclear program? tweet writes in a tweet, great progress being made but sanctions will be made until an
agreement is needed. meeting being planned. plus, the long-standing rules ob glal trailed are being upended as mr. trump signs off on new tariffs on steel and aluminum imrts. ignoring calls from republicans and allies. the president remains didiant. prt trump: the actions we're taking today are not a matter of choice. they're aatter of necessity for our securit robert: we discuss it all with kayla tausche of cnbc, peter baker of "the new york times." kimberly atkins of the "boston heraldan andraju of cnn. >> this is "washington week." funding is provided by -- >> their leadersh is instinctive. they understand the challenges
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newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics and excellence i journalism foundation. koo and patricia yuen through the yuenoundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the cporation for public body contrasting and by contributiono your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, from washington, moderatorta robert c robert: good evening. a stunning turn of events in u.s. diplomacy this week, as president trump, who has threatened north korea with fire and fury and called its little rocket man, semied an in mtation tot with kimberly atkins -- kim jeong country and discuss the rogue nation's nuclear program. e details of that submit remain to bed determi and -- summit remain to be determined and there was quick criticism and cheers.
tet the decision itself, as peter manfredo w in today's "new york times" was "shocking and not surprising." mr. trump's decision to do what no other sitting president has done reflects an audacious and supremely self-confident approach t nerble international crearms. be it middle east pales or 23r5eu8d agreements, mr. trump has repeatedly claim that he can achieve what has eincluded -- eluded every other resident of the white house through his own personality. a grand gesture from president trump but what's the plan? ter: i think he's having a good time. this week he managed to surprise everybody, used the word stunning. he loves to be unpribble predictable. good jobs numbersfu he loved signing the trade tariffs. forim this is chance to get ack on tom and carom the narrative and the narrative is a
guy who's breaking chin and he's doing things other presidents didn't do.ns what hapere is mump harder. easy to say yes, i'll you but when, where? what kind of preparations do you do? we've never had a with a sitting north korean leader and we don't have presents meet with these kinds of leaders in these circumstances. we have yet to see howar it's going to go. robert: kayla, you were at the white house when the south rean diplomats came and brought the message. president trump quick accepted. what was it like? >> it was a little bit ofem mayh because the there president came into the briefing room, the first time ever teesed this major announcement in a reality show timendf wing -- way and then he was willing about the westin some reporters were going up to him. he was beingy counselede vice president and you saw the
securityut shuttling in and quickly out of the president's autopsy and whether they were going to make the commitment to take this meeting. it was incredibly stressful from a reporting stammed point and i can only imagine it was on the other side of those doors as well. robert: big moments, kim. but when you look at history, so many presidents have they've tried and failed with north korea. president delint in 1994, the nuclear freeze. george w.ng bush tal about the access of evil, including north korea in that what does president trump think he can do to be better from -- different from his predecessor >> one thing president trump does not lack is hubris in the bleach he can do things better president. her but as you point out, there this is a difficult thing to do. a lot of presidents who ared surrouny a lot of smart
people who put a lot of time and in trying to negotiate some sort of deal withor north have walked away with no deal. north kor has its own agenda, whether it's help with oil. t the one thing at all they're not incentivized at all to do is give up their nukes. that's the one thing kim jong-un sees as protecting that country. especially what happened to datchy and husain once they gave their weapons away. so i can't fathom any deal that the president could cut that would ke kim jong-un easily walk away from its nuclear arsenal. robert: congressional republicans, they control the house and the senate and ty've been wary but somewhat encouraging about the surprise development. senator lindsay graham said
don't try to play him. it would be the end of you. >> it was a diffi lt roper republicans to walk. ing the recall, d obama years they went after him very hard over a lot of statements he made. in the 2008 campaign trail he said he would negotiate with foreign leaders without preconditions and he was hammered. not just from republicans but also hillary clinton and what is donald trump doing here? essentially negotiatesing without preconditions. republicans want to be encouraging. obviously it's more to do something diplomatically but at the same time they don't kn where this is going to. peter's earlier point, what you saw at the white house today was that it's a lot easier to say yes to meeting than to ctually carry through this meeting. sarah sanders was all over the map about exactly what the white house expects out of this
meeting. she said there need to be verifiable and conete steps that need to be taken before moving. forwa she even kept the door open that potentially this mayeeting may not happen and then afterwards, an anonymous white house oficial had walk all that ck and said it is going to happen it just means this happened in a hasty matter. robert: when you think aut the preconditions that may be part of this issue, there's a fundamental issue. the kim family going bac generations has always had mistrust of the united states be the core of their ideology. what's going to make it tur around? >> that's the problem for the president. what does he have to give them? he can apply what's calledm maxiressure at the table but i think you're right. i don't see why the kim family would want to give up what they feel is their own ream leverage. what may would for then
evacuation of american troops, for example, from the pens la. president trump said he wasn't going to talk with kim jeong unless he's denuclearized and he hasn't yet and he's agreed to talk anyway. i think a lotll ofs right now, particularly in japan but also south korea are nervous about that. is he going to give a deal that would work against their interests? robert: what do you make of the state of the sanctions? is that what brought kim to the table? >> the best data we have to go off comes out of the china. there are some estimates to say that the north korean academy, its exports were down about 30% last year. kim jong-un answered the onerous effects they had honor that - on that country. the fact he would even admit that means that it's reached a
point where maybe he feels somewhat vulnerable. economically, i think there needs to be aso compa perhaps of iran. they need to borrow money, they need to export their goods and access very basic resource they can't get so they're willing to say just aboutin any but it's actually verifying what they sal that wo is so difficult, as the president is now finding out. because that's deal he's also trying to go back and rewrite the fine print on. robert: that's a good point. what happens if this thing blows diplomatically? what's the risk for the president and his entire administration? pl we don't know. these are p who just a few sort weeks ago were comparing thees of each other's nuclear buttons. we really don't know at will come out of this time of meeting. we don't even know if this meeting will happen.
you're talking about the administration folks walking back, going back and forth. the president tweeted today m saying theting, fit happened. robert: he tweeted rhtefore the show, saying the deal with orth korea is very much in the meeting and will be, could be a very good one for the world time to be determined. maybe switzerland? >> probably so. the white houseo suggestedday the negotiations really haven't started yet so what deal is it exactly in the making? a lot of questions and two months is not a lot of time to resolve these questions. robert: peter you wrote today about the enormous and united states politics have be shredded apart by president trump. now diplomatic -- is being sleded apartment. this we -- shredded art? have we seen a president do this? maybet works.
>> people who say why not try something new because the old working. 't fair enough but there are a lot of reasons why people haven't done it thiswa you don't normally start off with the top guy in the negotiations. usually you bring in your lower people first, see what areas you can agree on. escalatehe to the h level. you're starting now backwards. starting with the heads of state and brume whether i -- esumably then they'll hand it off to the lower level goirtors. that could blow up. there's a lot of risk here. roip >> nothing about this has been normal. when you were there, the south koreans announcing a major olympics decision for the united states withou the united states making its own public announcement. what a stran tuation that i don't think has a precedent rowhatsoever. rt: we'll have to leave it
there on north korea but president moon of south korea, one of the most intriguing characters in this drama. he has more of a softer stance towards north korea. what a story. but let's turn to domestic policy a president trump's decision to move forward with new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports despite strong opposition from republicans and u.s. allies who say the movewi spark a trade war. the tariffs will go into effect about two weeks, adding 25% to the cost of u.s. imponlts and 10% to aluminum. canada and mexico are exempt from the initial ilementation pending nafta negotiationings. president trump'sen attac, to punish countries like china that have flooded the global markets. president trump: america will remain open to loweringr move
-- removing tariffs for individual nations as long as 're sure their products no longer threaten our security. robert: many republicans wanted more targeted efforts. >> i think there is a better way and that is to go after unfair ade practices specifically. robert: a big jobs number cam out this week. 313 jobs in february weredded. unemployment is at 4.1%et the president seems compelled to move on trailed. what was thect rn on the market and the world? >> the narcotic aprescription was somewhat muted but the president went wit a softer version of what he initially sa. you say the harshest version of what you think you can d you get critics to come to the table and beg for softening and then when you eventually do it, you have most people on board.
they're working on a deal for australia possibly to be ex. . he's tying nafta renegotiation right sizing of trailed deaf sis -- deficits, nato funding all in an effort to get allies a aligned - robert: sit working with the fact that ourre allies aligning with their own sanctions and trailed moves or are they just trying to negotiat with the president? >> we saw that in 2002-2003 when president george w. bush announced higher tariffs and the w.t. overturned that. europe had a list of sensive goods they were going to levy tariffs on but the w.t.o. overturned the tar riches before that went into place. the europeans are revisiting a
lot of those items. athe end of the day, they are politically sensitive areas. wisconsin, kentucky. you can figure out who they're trying to target there. robert: you look at what's happening in pennsylvania next unique with -- week, a special election for uhe. house in steel country. was that part of the whiec house'sion make something >> i'm sure it was. this is a president who, when there is chaos ask things aren't going his way, say with the mueller investigation, he nationalistk to his policy that is he campaigned on. in the case of the tariffs, this is something he'sed a vo indicated long before his political career. he believes that a strong u.s. economy depends on protectionism of industries likete. this is something he feels his political gut is right on. evenhough republicans were almost unitedly against this plan and there's a lot of fea that at a time the republicans would love to be doing a victory lamb about the tax bill, which
is growing more popular. these jobs numbers hementing into the midterm, they think that's a winning combination. the president going to do something which a lot republicans a afraid might reverse things. it's really a tension within the party. robert: democrats seem to be pretty split. >> democrats have a hard time praising if president even if they may agree with him on this policy but republicans, they're mostly united against him. u saw the republican leadership. paul ryan had muted criticism. mitch mcconnell was ptty quiet but he did criticize on a couple of occasions. d you see some chairmen and rank and first time members in the house and senate come out aghiessively against plan. i think what was so significant about thiseek, thiss the first time we've seen a significant policyivide tween republicans on capitol hill and the white house really lay out in the trump
presidency. you've seen some splits over things he's said b not necessarily on things he's done. this is the first time we've seen that on this tariffs issue in large part it goes against the bed rock republican orthodoxy and that's something that the president does not agree with. robert: this is something the president has talked abo his whole life on trailed and he's been encouraged by peter navarro, his trade advisors. the more natnalist swing of the white house. you've seen an ideology cal shift, programs. new england that gary cohn, his economic advisor revined mostly as a result of this.e resident ribbed him saying he's really a globalist but i like him anyway. he's going to go off and make a coupe hundred mllion dollars. that's true. gary cohn is a goebelist in a white house where that's
considered a bad word. he's now on the outs and his philosophy is. it's what you and kim said. i th one of the few things the president has -- a core believe -- belief for him. trailed, the idea that we're tting shafted as a country is a bed rock principle for him. robert: people inside the west wing were telling me, they're urging the president, sing the economy and market is strong but why do you fee s it'so necessary to go after these tariffs? he said he's going after the grievances of his base with the economy. >> they say if you do this you'll erase t good will of your party. he has data poinhat show that the naysayers have been ast.g in the all of the number headlines before the election said if trump wins the markets will plum and the instead they did exactly
the opposite. he can point to that and say show me real data. this is theory, not facts. robert: any legislation on capitol hill to try to bind the president's nd a little bit? >> there's talk of that. jeffke fthe arizona republican is very critical of this president, announced plans to t to prevent the president from moving forward. it's going to be difficult to get through because you're gng to nee veto-proof majority. the president is not siphoning that into l and it's not sure that the republican leadership, given their desire toork with in president -- really, if they want to start a war with thi president ahead of a key midterm season. my guess isep thelican leadership will try to convince him to backff administratively. and hope this fight will get into the rearview mirror. robert: senator johnson, remember are -- republican from wisconsin is saying go after allies. t the u.s.
>> that's what they're hoping. robert: we'll have to leave i there. thanks, everybody, for watching. stay tuned to find out how you can support your local pbs station. at in turnupports us. our conversation continues onlionel with the "washington week" extra, where we'll discuss ne developments in the russia probe. you can find it later tight and all weekend at pbs.org/"washington weekst i'm robert enjoy the weekend. ♪ >> funding for "washington week" is provide by --
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